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Caroline Glachan: Pair jailed over schoolgirl's murder in 1996 after police exposed their alibis as lies

Two people who murdered a schoolgirl as teenagers and then evaded justice for 27 years have been jailed for life.

Robert O'Brien, 45, and Andrew Kelly, 44, had denied murdering Caroline Glachan, 14, and lied about their whereabouts on the night of the murder but were found guilty following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The pair were sentenced on Monday. O'Brien must serve a minimum of 22 years before being eligible for parole, and Kelly 18 years.

Donna Marie Brand, 44, who was also found guilty of murder, was unfit to attend court and will be sentenced in March.

Judge Lord Braid said: "It is hard to find words to describe the evil nature of your crime, but three which come to mind are brutal, depraved, and above all, wicked."

Caroline's body was found in the River Leven in West Dunbartonshire on 25 August 1996 - the day of her mother's 40th birthday.

The killers - who were teenagers at the time of the murder - were eventually caught after Police Scotland reinvestigated the case in 2019.

More than 200 statements were taken from people who had not previously spoken to police, and from that officers from the Major Investigations Team were able to discredit their alibis.

During the trial last year, the jury heard that Caroline met boyfriend O'Brien, Kelly and Brand at a bridge near a towpath beside the river, between Renton and Bonhill.

There, the trio shouted and swore at her and repeatedly punched and kicked her in the head and body.

The court also heard they threw bricks or "similar instruments", causing blunt force trauma to her head and body.

She was pushed or fell into undergrowth and her body was later discovered in the river at Place of Bonhill, Renton.

Lord Braid said O'Brien was the main perpetrator and used "extreme violence" on the teenager.

The judge said while Kelly played a lesser role, he was also involved in inflicting "murderous violence".

During the trial, the court heard from Caroline's mother Margaret McKeich, who said her daughter was "infatuated" with O'Brien but that she did not approve of the relationship as he was a few years older than her.

Mrs McKeich said her daughter had previously disclosed O'Brien had "lifted his hands to her".

Lord Braid told O'Brien and Kelly that Caroline was a "lover of life".

He added: "Due to both of you, Caroline has been deprived of the opportunity of living that life - of developing into an adult, forming relationships, having children, fulfilling the potential which she evidently had, and of continuing to enjoy life, as she clearly did.

"Additionally, you have taken a daughter from her loving mother.

"In her victim statement, Mrs McKeich speaks eloquently and movingly of the lasting pain which Caroline's death has caused, the void which has been left in her life which can never be filled, and the incalculable feelings of deep loss and sadness which will always be there.

"She has been deprived of seeing the woman that Caroline would have become and of taking pride in the potential Caroline may have fulfilled. No sentence that I pass can possibly make up for what she has lost."

Caroline's childhood friend Joanne Menzies, 42, told the court O'Brien had threatened to kill the teenager for "kissing another boy", and that she had seen him bully the schoolgirl on more than one occasion.

Dr Marjorie Turner, a forensic pathologist, told the court Caroline's cause of death was drowning.

She told the trial: "She was still alive when she went into the water. The drowning was the ultimate cause of death."

Addressing O'Brien directly, Lord Braid said: "Nobody who heard the evidence of the pathologist Dr Marjorie Turner could fail to be sickened by her descriptions of the injuries caused by you."

Prosecutor Alex Prentice KC argued evidence given by a boy named Archie Wilson, who was four years old at the time of the murder, was "pivotal" to the case.

The boy's mother gave evidence that he had been taken to the river the night Caroline was murdered and witnessed her being assaulted and falling into the water.

Speaking outside court, Mrs McKeich said she was "over the moon" that justice had been served for her daughter.

She said: "This is the day that I've been waiting for, for 27 years.

"It was more than what I was hoping for. I'm really, really happy.

"I'm just sad that the other one is not here to get her comeuppance, but she'll get it in March.

"Today I couldn't have wished for more, the outcome, the whole thing. I am over the moon.

"It's not going to bring Caroline back but it's justice for her. I don't know if closure is the right word, but justice has certainly been done."